Ever read a really great book and wish you'd written it?
Jodi Picoult (my literary idol) to Caroline B Cooney, Jacqueline Wilson, Sharon Creech.
I first discovered the book after a fairly dismal meeting with a prospective agent who'd basically told me she liked my writing but what was selling these days was paranormal fiction.
Then inspiration struck - so many teen girls feel invisible - what if I wrote about one who actually was - because she was a ghost! Teen angst + supernatural! Hurray! Problem solved! And what if one day suddenly a guy did see her...?
I spent the next few hours furiously plotting - only to get home, go on Amazon and discover "My So-Called Afterlife", a book with an incredible title - and a rather similar synopsis...
"I knew it was time to move on when a tramp peed on my Uggs..."
Meet Lucy Shaw. She's not your average fifteen year old - for a start, she's dead. And as if being a ghost wasn't bad enough, she's also trapped haunting the men's toilets on Carnaby Street. So when a lighting engineer called Jeremy walks in and she realises he can see and hear her, she isn't about to let him walk out of her afterlife."
To say I was gutted is an understatement. But I was also extremely intrigued and was eager to read MSCA when it came out. Now I finally have I must say this:
I am SO glad Tamsyn got there first.
My So-Called Afterlife made me laugh, made me cry, and the plot races along like a wonderful rollercoaster, part-mystery, part-romance, part-comedy as it covers all aspects of being dead, from the difficulties of kissing when you have no lips and the agony of missing your favourite soaps and being stuck in stinky toilets, to heavier subjects such as bullying, grief, and murder, all dealt with truthfully and with Lucy's (and Tamsyn's) characteristic warmth and flair.
We may have started with the same seed of an idea, but Tamsyn's creation is an entirely different creature to what mine would have become - and all the better for it! It's MUCH funnier, faster, and probably a fraction of the size mine would've ended up, given the 140,000 words that poured into the first draft of my novel!
What it comes down to I couldn't have written this book, and I'm really glad Tamsyn did.
What books do you wish you'd written, and why?
And have you ever come up with a great idea only to find someone else wrote it first (if not better...?)
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